Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Critique groups

The publishing industry has undergone a lot of growing pains in the last few years. One result of this, IMHO, is critique groups are more important than ever for writers. Why? Because writers need another set of eyes on their work, so they can discover what's really on the page--as opposed to what they think is on the page.

I freely admit getting critique is tough. It's difficult to hear that one's writing, one's baby, is not perfect. And sometimes feedback isn't helpful. In general, critique should be about how something is written, not what is written.

Here are some critique group tips from Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers:

  • Offering Critique:
    • Begin with positive comments.
    • Comments should be specific and about things like viewpoint, structure, characters, word choice, etc.
    • Note any confusion you had as a reader and/or questions that were raised.
    • Be sure you separate the character/narrator from the author. Don't assume the author is the character/narrator.
    • Comment on the work itself, and not the subject matter or related philosophies, etc.
    • End with something positive.
  • Receiving Critique:
    • Just listen and/or take notes. Do not argue, explain or defend.
    • Don't be intimidated or depressed by the feedback. Honest feedback is a valuable tool for improving one's writing.
    • Don't take everyone's critique as gospel. You are the boss of your writing. Don't make changes before careful consideration.
    • If a critique group isn't working for you, by all means, quit and look for another group.
How do you find a group? Local writers groups have critique groups. Many public libraries have writer's critique groups. There are also a lot of online groups. See, for example, the compilation at: "Online Writing Groups, Writing Communities and Critique Groups".

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

writing advice

I've been doing a lot of research into writing advice from writers for a workshop I'm teaching with a friend later in the summer. There is a lot of advice out there! I've blogged about this before, see for example Quotes from Writers. Some of the most obvious--and helpful--pieces of advice include:
  • To be a writer you must write.
  • Finish things.
  • Read, read, read.
In an effort to winnow down the massive amount of info, I decided to focus on some of the most successful writers of recent years and see if they have anything in common. And, IMHO, they do.
  • George R.R. Martin said recently in an interview that his characters are more real to him than some real-world people.
  • Regarding her missing her characters, J.K. Rowling said, "I really miss all of them, but I suppose I'm going to have to say Harry because he is my hero and there is a lot of me in Harry."
    and "What you write becomes who you are…so make sure you love what you write!"
    and "Sometimes I actually hated the book, even while I loved it."
  • Stephenie Meyer said "My focus is the characters--that's the part of the story that is most important to me. I feel the best way to write believable characters is to really believe in them yourself."
    and "try not to focus on the publishing part while you write—tell yourself a story that you really love."
Thus the gist of this advice is: write the story and characters that you, the author, love.
Good luck!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

no guilt

Sometimes, as writers, life gets in the way and doesn't let us achieve our daily, or even our weekly, writing goals and tasks. I'm here to proclaim a 'no guilt' zone! If you don't finish all your tasks--like your blog post, as a totally random example--let it go. (Unless you have a working time machine, in which case, go ahead and fix it.) :)
As a writer, I do struggle a bit with guilt, but I'm trying not to. It's better for me to move on, go on, write the next thing.
Which I should really go do now.

How about you? Do you every not achieve your writing goals? How do you handle it?